The essential guide for a buzzing office environment

Design, Agile working, Wellbeing

According to studies on workplace and staff productivity, the most defining factor in what determines an employee’s ability to focus (and stay focused) is their physical environment.

Surroundings and aesthetics are so influential, that a cleverly designed office space can increase productivity levels by 20%.

But it isn’t all about aesthetics, it’s about creating an environment that functions perfectly for those who occupy it. Pioneering modernist architect Le Corbusier said a house should be "a machine for living;" therefore there is no reason why an office should not appear as a machine for productivity. The sector or line of work has no relevance to this. What you surround yourself with whilst working will always have a significant impact on your ability to focus and your overall ability to be productive.

So here are nine tips on how to use office design ideas to help boost creativity in your working environment.

1. Communal areas

Research shows that the hustle and bustle of modern offices can lead to a 32% drop in workers, even by being exposed to continuous noise and distraction has been proven to significantly impair ability to focus and can reduce work productivity by 15%. By allowing staff time during the day to shut down and commune with the people they work with is a valuable commodity to the wellbeing of all staff. It’s also a fantastic way to encourage staff to collaborate whilst generating new ideas. But for this ‘water cooler’ effect to actually happen, you need to actually provide that go-to space for staff to go and relax. Comfortable seating such as bean bags or sofas allow for a tranquil space for people to commune and entertain ‘mini-conferencing’.

A great example is Pixar Studios, designed by the late Apple chief Steve Jobs. The open space away from desks and computers encourages people to gather informally for impromptu meetings and (one would hope) the natural birth of ideas.

2. Be organised

According to a survey by staffing firm Adecco, 57% of workers admit to judging a co-worker based on the cleanliness of their workspace and nearly half say they have been "appalled" by a dirty office. Clutter has the ability to obscure staff capabilities and concentration.

By providing employees the space and order that they need to function is essential for both staff moral but also nurturing creativity. Provide modular storage space to reduce clutter and make it easier for staff to stay focused.

3. Shhh

Providing a room for employees to vacate, retreat, and simply zone out for some tranquillity time has proven time and time again to work wonders for staff motivation and productivity. The great thing about it is conjuring up what type of zen-den will work best for your employees, perhaps send a memo round the office and discover what ‘quiet time’ means to them.

A wonderful example of a chill out zone is at London’s digital agency Essence, designed by the Peldon Rose team, who fully embraced the importance of a dedicated calm area with a relaxing open space filled with nature inspired aesthetics and seats to relax on.

4. Feels like home

Creating an office where your employees feel comfortable is vital for encouraging staff to come up with their best ideas. Personalised mugs, photos of family or treasured mementos all contribute to this, but what is currently trending in offices around the world is actually introducing a pet to the equation. Research carried out by Central Michigan University indicated that dogs’ presence in the workplace could lead to increased staff wellbeing and productivity as well as lowering absenteeism rates and reducing stress levels.

By having a dog or two around could even improve relationships among co-workers and promote team bonding. It’s no surprise then that global brand giants such as Google and Amazon have adopted the trend.

5. Make a stand

Movement encourages physical and mental wellbeing. As well as the more traditional office areas, look to introduce ways for people to work that allows for movement, for example adjustable desk stations allowing workers to stand. Café-height tables come with incredible health advantages helping you work better, live longer, and contributes to increased levels of creativity.

Denmark is a fan of the trend and has now made it mandatory for employers to offer their staff sit-stand desks, and numerous UK companies are also now following suit. Peldon Rose recently designed a dedicated stand up meeting space for the team at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, with the aim of making meetings more energetic and day-to-day tasks more efficient. A win win for everyone!

6. Colour me happy

80% of UK office workers believe the colour of their surroundings has a significant impact on both their emotions and their performance. Colour is vital for office productivity as the shades you choose have the ability to completely alter attitudes and moods. Colour specialist Leatrice Eiseman, says Purple, for example is a restorative colour that calms and rejuvenates you, therefore ideal for when you’re feeling demotivated and unappreciated. Yellow, a colour representing the sun has positive vibes and perfect for livening a ‘blue day’. Orange hues strengthen concentration whilst also boosting creativity as it actually stimulates your adrenaline. Red accents will also have a similar result.

Look around the office and consider where adding splashes of colour could really make a difference, such as a break-out space. International brand networking site, Bazaarvoice is a great example of using colour. Their dazzling new HQ in West London designed by Peldon Rose are bursting with pockets of colour, complete with retro furniture, meeting rooms modelled on a monopoly board and colour coded Victorian terrace doors. Simply add a splash of colour where you fancy to get those creative juices flowing.

7. Let the light in

Natural light has also been proven to have fantastic benefits, helping to boost creativity and energy levels. According to a paper by Franta and Anstead in 1994, natural lighting mitigates ailments such as eye-strain, Seasonal Affective Disorder and headaches. As detailed in our blog on How to Survive the Office in Summertime, you don’t have to actually have an office which is literally out with the elements, you can bring the outside in. By exposing staff to materials, textures, patterns and colours inspired by nature, you can evoke an innate connection to the outdoors which ultimately improves the health and wellbeing for staff on a major scale.

8. Engage your team

Encourage a sense of community amongst the team, particularly if you’re in a large organisation. Try creating a communal work space where people across all departments can come together to work. Laptop pods by Plus Architecture and its designer Emma Selzer created such spaces with ‘community’ as the overarching theme. Spaces for workers to commune work extremely well for employees who don’t usually interact, to come together and do exactly that.

9. Clear branding

Offices should in principle, nourish employee’s productivity, and they should project the company’s brand identity and values whilst doing so. The best brands are by far the ones that come to life and radiate the company’s culture, and as offices remain places where we spend most of our days and years they should do all they can to motivate and inspire. Coca-Cola's London headquarters is a great example of this: covering 66,000 SQ FT, the office space is appropriately adorned throughout by using the company’s iconic vintage memorabilia from the US archives. The design cleverly reflects the positive energy of the organisation with its combination of modern and retro design themes.

Detail shot of brown terazzo worktop with brown leather seating

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